Roman Bodnarchuk knows your name, and he’s not afraid to use it.
As the CEO of N5R, Bodnarchuk specializes in helping clients breathe new life into traditional campaigns by introducing interactive content. The company’s MyMail technology
pulls from existing databases and creates a personalized portal offering information on product sales information, contest entries or other kinds of special offers. N5R has worked with clients from Microsoft to Apple, but he says not all IT vendors are quick to recognize the promise of digital marketing.
“”If guys like Procter & Gamble are using this for one or two dollar items, you’d think that high-tech marketers would be all over this stuff, but you’d be amazed at how many aren’t,”” he says. “”You ask them about their e-mail strategy, and they don’t have one. You ask them about their text messaging strategy, and they don’t have one. It’s almost embarrassing.””
Bodnarchuk recently spoke with Pipeline to offer more details on how N5R’s services work.
Pipeline: Why is personalization more important now for marketing success?
Roman Bodnarchuk: First of all, most of the marketers you’re dealing with are still living back in the 1950s. They’re still doing direct mail, they’re doing trade shows. They might be running some advertising in some trade publications but it’s very draconian stuff. It’s stuff they’ve been doing for 40, 50 years.
What we’ll do is take their print ad and drive it not to an 1-800 number of a business reply card, but a unique Web site where we can profile that customer or that business more. And then we can get back to them in real time with relevant, targeted info.
Pipeline: Can you give an example?
RB: In traditional direct mail you’d have a list, rent a list or buy a list. You’d send out some kind of piece. The call to action would be a 1-800 number, which no one wants to call because they don’t want to talk to a sales rep, or you’d ask them to fill out a business reply card which nobody wants to fill out because they don’t want to go mail it. That’s why response rates have fallen below one per cent. If you get one, two or three per cent you get plaques and awards, they have a dinner for you. You’re marketer of the year if you get five per cent. What we do is create a personal Web page with your name right in the URL and all your information. Then you see the dreaded form, but we pre-populate that form because people don’t want to write in all their “”tombstone”” data. They find that boring, but if you can make it easy, customers are happy to tell you all about what they’re interested in. And then, within seconds, we’re dynamically building a Web site with content that you actually care about.
So if we’re building a Web site for Apple Computer and the business is interested in the Apple servers, they don’t really give a shit about the G5s. In real time, that site dynamically changes and gives that customer prospect what they’re looking for. The reason we do this is, No. 1, we’re getting 10 to 30 per cent response rates. More importantly, our sales conversations are astronomical because we’re getting customers to profile themselves with the information they need, and finally we close the loops with the sales reps. We send the sales rep an e-mail that says a customer has been checking out the X servers, they’ve been on the site for 10 minutes, spent this much time looking at this area, we suggest you call him. Then minutes later, after you’ve gone to the Web site, you’re going to get a call from a sales rep that’s talking about something you’re actually interested in. So it’s a timely call that you’re looking for.
Pipeline: How much customer relationship management data does a marketer need to get started?
RB: What we tend to do is start out with customer’s databases. Usually companies have great databases they do nothing with. They have customers databases — they know nothing about them. They have prospect databases — they know nothing about them. The first campaign we like to do is to a customer’s own list, either of customers or prospects. We create an incentive, we send either a direct mail or an e-mail — it could be different vehicles. But the point is to create an incentive that’s going to resonate with the customer or prospect, let the customer go into this Web experience, profile themselves so we know how to follow up based on the product or service. That’s where a lot our tech companies have been successful, like Microsoft and Apple and HP. There’s just such a big disconnect between marketing and sales. We’re trying to close that gap.
Pipeline: What kind of audience responds best to this kind of technique?
RB: The biggest comment I hear from people is, “”That makes sense for consumers. We can see consumers being motivated by incentives.”” The reality is, we’ll all the same. We’re human beings, and whenever you can create a value proposition or an incentive for someone, they’re going to react to it. If there’s nothing in it for them, they’re not going to react. That’s why if you walk to any trade show booth they’re always giving away Palm Pilots — there’s always some kind of benefit. We use the same kind of tactics to get people’s attention, whether it’s for 30 seconds or three minutes.
Pipeline: How do you decide the best vehicle for directing them to their personalized Web site?
RB: It’s usually direct mail. In some cases e-mail might be better. If it’s a younger demographic — say 30 years or younger — text messaging might be the best. It depends on who we’re dealing with. If it’s Apple and they want to sell more iPods, text messaging makes a lot of sense. If it’s Dell Computer and they want to sell to a corporate buyer, then direct mail would work. The problem with e-mail is that though it’s still very cost-effective and response rates are still good, we’re just getting inundated. The average business person’s getting 100 a day — how do you stand out in that hundred? Sometimes we’ll do all three. It really depends on the objective.
Pipeline: Is there any particular profile for the kind of company that would use this method?
RB: I think anyone selling big-ticket items has to embrace this because their cost of sales is so high. They’re the most unsophisticated marketers. When you ask them what’s their cost per sale, what’s their cost per lead, they don’t know. You’d be surprised at how many VPs of marketing just kind of look perplexed. The reason they’re clueless is that when you do traditional advertising, you can’t track that metric. You could spend a million dollars with the Globe and Mail, but how do you actually track how many customers came out of that ad? You can’t. You have no idea how many came from your radio, TV or print (ad). With database marketing, we can tell you everything — what time of day they were responded, how many customers, which creative worked the best.
Pipeline: How personalized can you make marketing before it’s considered too invasive?
RB: What we’ve learned statistically is that the more levels of personalization, the higher the response rates. If I do a direct mail, e-mail or Web site and I put your name on it, I will get a certain bump in response rate. If I can get your name and your company name, the response is higher. With your name, company and city, it goes even higher. It maxes out at about seven pieces of data. It’s not that it declines, it just kind of maxes out.